No matter how you slice it, pizza is purely a food of convenience.
One call, and a ding-dong later, you’ve got a steaming hot dinner at your door step.
And thanks to that one “pizza, pizza” place you can get a large 8-slicer for $5. They even have a drive-thru.
Then there are your friends Mama Celeste, Totino, and Palermo. They live in your freezer, hang out with your oven, and make love to your appetite. Those hot-and-ready whores come with a price, though… literally, and figuratively: they’re not fresh, and they’re often victims of freezer frost.
Why not make your own? It’s so easy. There’s the ready-made tubes of dough in the refrigerated section. I like them, but they’re packed with preservatives. So are the read-to-use, already baked and bagged brands.
I’ve told you about my black bean pizza already… remember??
I’ll admit it. I’ve never made my own from scratch. Yeast kind of freaks me out. I will, however, do it one day. I pizza promise.
To make life easier, I’ll often use English Muffins. If you get the right one (multi-grain), they’re pretty good for you. They’re perfectly portioned, unless you eat 12 of them. They’re great for the kiddies, too. It’s a pint-sized pie they can decorate themselves.
This time, though, I went with another idea. I used sandwich rounds. It’s like a thin-crust pizza. They’re cheap, and I got the healthier version.
By the way, a gift of beautifully big basil leaves from Mary Lu (my friend, and common commenter on here) and my farmers’ market finds were the whole reason I got onto this pizza kick. I found these little baby Japanese eggplants, that in my mind, looked like the perfect addition to a pie… and I was right.
You know I never do things the simple way, and here’s more proof: I made 4 different kinds of pizzas.
Mediterranean: I caramelized thin slices of eggplant.
I made my own hummus for the base. Store-bought hummus is tasty, especially all the different blends (spicy, Greek, roasted red pepper), and so is home-made. The do-it-yourself way requires sesame paste, or tahini, which is pretty pricey. I made mine with sesame oil.
It’s not cheap either, but I already had it. I use the sesame oil in stir-fries and Asian dishes. You get more bang for your buck. I can’t image putting an $8 jar of tahini to use all the time. Fresh tomatoes and capers rounded out this pie.
Margherita: The basil mentioned above, fresh mozzarella, and simple (store-bought) tomato sauce. Top it off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some cracked black pepper.
Pesto-Portabello: Whole Foods makes this and it’s like an invisible leash that forever tethers you to their pizza island. They don’t seem to have it any more, so I tried to re-create it. I caramelized baby bella mushrooms (these are meatier and better for you than the button variety).
Cheese: I was feeding two starving kids who’d sooner give up the Disney Channel than eat my other creations. So, I made them good ol’ cheese pizzas with store-bought sauce and grated mozzarella.
Think about this. I made all of those pizzas (8 of them) with one package of sandwich rounds, one jar of sauce, and a few other ingredients.
I baked all of these on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes on 400. You want everything to melt and blend, not burn. When I do it again, I think I’ll pre-bake the crusts just to give them a little more crispness. Maybe 5-10 on 400. Then top them and bake for 10 minutes.
Tip: You could also go the dessert route with the pizzas. Paint the sandwich rounds (or make giant sugar cookies) with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, then decorate with chocolate chips, fruit, or peanut butter.